Mission & History
The Lakes Area Music Festival aims to energize the community with an exciting classical music experience performed by some of the country’s most talented young artists and professional musicians. It is also a celebration of this community, which has produced so many music talents!
The festival originated in 2009 when Scott Lykins, a native of Nisswa, MN, invited four of his friends to hide away in the beautiful Brainerd Lakes Area and work as servers at Lost Lake Lodge for the season. All were current students or recent graduates of the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Meghan Attridge, Maria Bellanca, and John Taylor Ward studied voice and opera, Alexander Peña was a violist, and Scott played both cello and piano. Alongside guest artists and community members, this group organized and presented a six concert series at churches in Brainerd, Baxter, and Nisswa.
The inaugural year of concerts was a colossal success. Attracting and inspiring audiences of permanent and seasonal residents, as well as visitors, the first Lakes Area Chamber Music Festival drew over 1,000 concert attendees. After such an overwhelming reception, it was exceedingly apparent that this program must be continued.
In 2010, 37 enthusiastic performers from around the country came to the Lakes Area, including exceptional music conservatory students, members of Minnesota’s two world-class professional orchestras, and distinguished members of collegiate faculties. The word “Chamber” was dropped to reflect the scope of music presented including opera. While here, they collaborated on six exhilarating free-of-charge concerts featuring some of the most loved works in the classical music repertoire. The Festival was also preceded by a Prelude series of small ensemble music concerts presented in the communities of Little Falls, Nisswa, Crosby, Aitkin, and Brainerd to whet everyone’s appetite! More than 2,200 people attended the Festival concerts in addition to 800 people to the Prelude series.
2011 was the Festival’s third season. Fifty-three musicians will be came to the Lakes Area including members of the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee and St. Louis Symphonies at Brainerd’s Tornstrom Auditorium. 3,300 people attended Festival concerts that were free-of-charge in addition to 900 people who attended a Prelude series of concerts.
In 2012, over 80 musicians performed seven concerts including our first full-length opera, The Magic Flute, and our first concert dedicated to an audience of all ages with Hoe Down, Peter and the Wolf, and the solo performance of our first young person’s concerto competition winner. Over 4,000 people attended the Festival as well as a growing audience to our Prelude series, and 30 children to our first, week-long children’s community education program. Finally, an adult music education series was led by own local, professional musicologist!
Please feel free to browse our web-site, and invite your family, friends and neighbors to join you in this exciting summer Lakes Area event!